can i be age eight again for a while, then skip back?

Today I rode the bus out to Fort Worden to volunteer for the Sewing booth at the 6th Annual Children’s Festival of Art in Building 204 (our sign said “Stitch-Witchery”, and of course we do have our share of pagans / Wiccans in this town, whereas in my hometown that particular booth would have been decorated by a hand-drawn teddy bear or Precious Moments-influenced sign chirping, “Sew Fun!“).

Sometimes I say I don’t like children, but I think I really do. In my 2 1/2 hour stint today, the only people who came to my booth were 7 to 11 year-old girls and then a handful of Mamas, the latter either helping their child or greedily digging for the choice fabrics and materials and elbowing a youngster or two out of their way to do so. Oh wait, there was one fellow – a tall, bass-voiced young dad who very sweetly helped several girls braid their purse handles. He was there for 45 minutes or so, I swear – it was cute.

Anyway, the girls themselves were great. I’m used to a four-year old; the attention span and common sense lack of perfectionism in these young ladies was new and exciting. It was also fun to be able to impress a throng with relatively mundane sewing skills. But the real observation of the day was how many of the girls this age seem to be straddling the fence between authentic, sweet, intelligent creatures and… fucking scary, venomous-tongued bitches. You know: the look, the eye-roll – the Voice. The younger girls were mostly still sweet: “One time, my grandpa tried to give me coffee. Let me tell you the story…” (“Nice!” I’d think). A minute later, overheard from another conversation: “Remember how Becky said last year that Hilary Duff sounded like she had a cold? And now she likes her just because everyone else does? Yeah, Becky seems like the kind of person…” prattling on (“Scary!” I’d tally, widening my eyes toward the yarn ball I was winding).

Another girl, at the booth with a friend from a school she’d just been forced to move from (a friendship, I’m sure, that will not last), was interrupted mid-task by a visit from a young, pretty, big-arsed blonde woman. The woman in question had a few comments for the girl and told her she’d be downstairs in the volunteer lounge. And after she left I heard the girl say to her friend, “… and somewhat embarassing!” primly, totally selling her mom out. “Was that your mom?” I asked. “Yes,” the little princess said, eyeing me for my particular judgment. “That wasn’t embarassing,” I said, then turned my attention back to the blanket stitch I was doing with no further comment (I could thread a needle better and tie knots faster than these girls and that made me cooler).

The same girl appreciated my droll humor. “Good thing you didn’t cut your tail ends just then or we’d have been screwed,” I say, as I come around the table to help her knot the end of her braid. A pause. “I’m eleven.” she says, flatly. “What?” I ask. “You just said a cuss word in front of me. I’m only eleven.” “What? ‘Screwed’ isn’t a cuss word. Geez, I almost said something worse.”

Although truth be told, I am quite pleased an eleven year old girl still knows that yes, “screwed” is a bad word.

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